Sonia Turcotte

July 1, 2019

What is the point of a designer?

In my design work and academic research, I’ve been thinking about ways that design, particularly in the tech sector, can be less shit. Most recently, my research has focused on decolonial efforts but I’m interested in challenging all kinds of oppressive systems that design operates within.

One of the things that keeps cropping up is the need to reframe the role of the designer.

I am going to start with the premise I’m working from.

Our lives are increasingly shaped by and subject to design. Consequently, everybody designs.

Design was built on and operates within colonial, racist, patriarchal, sexist hierarchies (this list could go on and on, as could the references).

This requires addressing the power relations intrinsic in current design processes and artefacts, including redefining design as a practice that anyone can participate in.

But if design is a practice anyone can participate in, what is the point of the designer?

Could it be designing the tools for participatory and collective design to happen? What else? How can we, as designers, incorporate participatory and inclusive methods into our everyday practice? Can this even be done within the existing frameworks of agile working environments?

I don’t have compelling answers, but I am very interested in conversations or recommendations for further research.